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Category Archives: working out your own faith

Writer’s block!

FirefoxScreenSnapz061UPDATE ON MY WRITING PROJECTS:

As some of you know, I’m on study leave this semester from my teaching duties at Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry (we have pretty large bumper stickers).

After serving two weeks on the OM ship Logos Hope in Singapore and Thailand, I have the rest of the semester to pursue a number of writing projects.  Here are a few of them:

1.  “Twelve Atheists Who Have Trusted Christ”:   I’ve been working on the first chapter of this book and it is tentatively entitled “C.S. Lewis: Mere Atheist.”  I’ve got a few contacts to pursue, but if you know of any believers who wandered for a while in atheism before trusting Christ, I’d appreciate contact information.

2.  “Saved!  Rescued from God, by God, and for God.”  This manuscript is with my agent waiting to be pitched to publishers.  I’m really excited about this one which is about 98% finished.  The chapter titles are:  LOST, LOVED, LURED, LEARNING, LABELED, LIBERATED, and LAUNCHED.  The Epilogue is quite challenging and is entitled LOATHED!

3.  “One-Year DocDEVOS”:  Some of you may know that one KeynoteScreenSnapz065of my earlier books is called “DocDEVOS: Ten-Minute Daily Devotionals on the Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith.”  There are ten areas of doctrine in Christian theology, and the original DocDEVOS covered only the first three areas (in yellow).  I want to write devotionals for the other seven areas.  The total number of devotionals would be about 300-325.  A friend of mine refers to my original DocDEVOS as a “kind of Daily Bread with teeth.”

4.  “Working Out Your Own . . . Faith”:  I have already developed five of these theological workbooks.  These are lay-flat, fill in the blank, self-studies of the ten areas of theology.  I’m very enthused for this project.  I believe most Christians would enjoy going through these Workbooks and working out their own understanding of the truths of the Scriptures.  This proposal is also with my agent.

Microsoft PowerPointScreenSnapz0025.  “DocTALK” and “DocWALK” and “Heaven: Thinking Now about Forever”:  I want to check into the possibility of having these earlier books republished, perhaps with some added material (such as study questions).  DocTALK is a survey of all then areas of Christian theology and DocWALK asks the questions, “How do we put these truths into practice.  When Temptation Strikes is a study of both temptation and sin, suggesting a number of strategies in not simply avoiding sin, but of moving on in godliness.

There are other projects that I am working on, but I value any feedback from any of you on these works.  Thanks.  Larry

 
 

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“WORKING OUT YOUR OWN FAITH: FIRST THINGS FIRST!” (Section 3)

Friends:

I am teaching an undergrad theology course this  Fall semester and I’m using five theological Workbooks which my students will fill in.  I’m referring to these Workbooks as “retro,” because they are in a lay-flat format and the questions will be answered in the Workbook with pen or pencil.

I thought you might find this first Workbook interesting.  The topic, “First Things First,” refers to the introductory issues in theology which must be considered before diving into the doctrine of the Bible, or the doctrine of God, etc.

What I will seek to do over the next few weeks is provide several of the 50 questions which make up this first workbook.

The Workbooks are designed to be used by those who are not students in my class, so they may be purchased here:

SECTION #3: THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCTRINE!

We can easily fall into the thinking of our culture that all beliefs are really merely personal opinions and that none are more valid or true than another. Our fundamental convictions guide us in our daily decisions and priorities, don’t they? Solid thinking is vital for us to keep us from falling into something other than biblical Christianity. Let’s talk about some of these issues:

14. List out the four priorities of the Early Church as found in Acts 2:42. Note the 1st priority! Why do you think evangelism and missions are not in this list (read the rest of Acts 2)?

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15. One of the best sermons I’ve ever heard is John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life!” For extra credit please listen to that sermon (the audio is found on our website and the video is on my blog at http://tinyurl.com/7vfgt57). Take a few notes on that sermon below:

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16. Some argue that BELIEF is nothing other than merely holding a personal

opinion. Survey the gospel of John and write out your definition of FAITH or BELIEF below (give the references in John which lead to your definition(s):

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17. Someone named John Gardner once wrote: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” For extra credit, listen to — and take notes on — the message by Al Mohler on THINKING found at: http://tinyurl.com/869nr67 or at desiringgod.org or on our website.

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18. In that message on thinking, Albert Mohler referred to something called “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Read the following Wikipedia article and write out your understanding of what is meant by this term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_therapeutic_deism

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How do we Christians become theologically lazy? Name three practical steps that we can take to overcome doctrinal laziness:


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What have we seen in these six questions? We’ve seen that the early church devoted itself to the Apostles’ teaching, so that evangelism and missions were natural outcomes of believing the truths of God. We’ve learned from Piper’s sermon that the believer in Jesus can waste his or her life (see I Cor. 3:15 in this regard). Belief or faith, as used in the Gospel of John, means far more than holding a correct opinion. Are Christians guilty of moralistic therapeutic deism? It would sometimes seem so. If we rise to Albert Mohler’s challenge to think biblically, we will not be theologically lazy. In that regard, our last question in this section is . . .

If we are to love God with our minds, we will be challenged by an unbelieving world at every point. Do you presently have a relationship with a non-believer who challenges your faith intellectually? _______ (yes or no). If no, will you begin to pray for God to give you such a friend? ______ (yes or no)

 

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“WORKING OUT YOUR OWN FAITH: First Things First!” (Section 2)

Friends:

I’ll be teaching an undergrad theology course this coming Fall semester and I’m developing five theological Workbooks which my students will fill in.  I’m referring to these Workbooks as “retro,” because they are in a lay-flat format and the questions will be answered in the Workbook with pen or pencil.

I thought you might find this first Workbook interesting.  The topic, “First Things First,” refers to the introductory issues in theology which must be considered before diving into the doctrine of the Bible, or the doctrine of God, etc.

What I will seek to do over the next few weeks is provide several of the 50 questions which make up this first workbook.

The Workbooks are designed to be used by those who are not students in my class, so they may be purchased here:

SECTION #2:  DOCTRINE AND BEHAVIOR!

Many people resist “doctrine” because they don’t know what it is, don’t comprehend its importance, or have experienced it divorced from proper behavior.  When my family and I moved to Canada, we got skating and hockey lessons for our son (who was 10 at the time).  He did okay, but was a bit small for his age.  So the coach often just told him to go skate into the opposing team’s players!  Someone has defined hockey as a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept!  That’s kind of true in the Christian life, isn’t it?  Let’s think about the relationship between doctrine and behavior.

7. The term “doctrine” (didaskalia) is used in the following Scriptures:  I Timothy 1:10; 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9 and 2:1.  Write out five specific truths you learn from those five texts:

8. Listen to my message entitled “Doctrine: What Is It Good For?” found on our website or on my blog at  http://tinyurl.com/7be3u3a. Take a few notes below on the acrostic D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E discussed in the message . . .

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9.  Why do you think many believers in Jesus don’t grow?  Carefully look over the following text from Hebrews 5 and write out several conclusions you draw from this passage to answer that question:

10.  Let’s invest some time in thinking about the relationship between BELIEF and BEHAVIOR.  We often believe far more than we behave, don’t we?  Please unit-read the book of Jonah and check this box when you have done so:

11.  Complete the following chart, writing out Jonah’s orthodox (= “correct”) statements and his heterodox (“other than orthodox”) behavior:

12.  Someone has said that we Christians “owe it to the world to be supernaturally joyful!”  What verses in Scripture teach that our beliefs, our theology, ought to bring us JOY?  How do you know when your theological joy is gone?

13.  Analyze the passage below (from Heb. 12) and answer the questions given on the issue of good theology and the Christian life:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

(a) What are the imperatives (commands) in this passage?  List them below:

(a)  How is the Lord Jesus our example in running the race of faith?

(b)   How does considering His endurance help you in living out what you say you believe?

 

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An Approach to Doing Theology! (Part 1)

Examples abound of poor theological method.  How are we who profess to be Evangelicals to “do” theology?  What method should we use?  By “method” we mean the steps and process we use for developing a biblical response to a critical issue in theology.

One of my favorite courses to teach this semester is entitled “Theological Methods and Issues.”  This upper-level seminary course has thirteen students, all of whom have already been through our two systematic theology courses.  So they have (hopefully) a solid grounding in the ten areas of Prolegomena (introductory matters), Bibliology (the doctrine of general and special revelation), Theology Proper (a study of God’s existence, attributes, and works), Christology (the Person and work of the Lord Jesus), Anthropology (man in God’s image), Hamartiology (the doctrine of temptation & sin),  Soteriology (the topic of salvation and sanctification), Pneumatology (the Person and ministries of God the Holy Spirit), Ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church), and Eschatology (the study of “final things”).  Whew!

The approach my students are following in their two research papers involves eight steps which I’ll begin to briefly describe below.  [I am grateful to Dr. Robert Ferris for his permission to use this material].

 STATING THE TOPIC. Our first responsibility as students of God’s Word (=”theologians”) is that we clearly identify the underlying issue, then state the topic which we are addressing.

For example, I’ve recently reviewed Dr. Sharon Baker’s book Razing Hell.  She comes at the topic of eternal lostness from a particular position that encourages her to read all of the Bible — especially the judgment sections of the Word — through what she calls “the Jesus lens.”  One possible topic sentence, if one were to study this issue, would be “What Is Meant by ‘the Jesus Lens’ in the Book Razing Hell?” (to be continued)

Questions:

1.  Why are we not more explicit in describing our method of pursuing theological issues?

2.  What theological topics would you like to see addressed in this blog?

 

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WORKING OUT YOUR OWN . . . FAITH!

I’ve been doing a lot of work, friends, on a project which I pray will come to fruition within the next year or so.  I don’t have a publisher yet, so suggested contacts are welcomed!

WORKING OUT YOUR OWN . . . FAITH:  

Engaging Scripture for Yourself!

Original cover by Ron Wheeler

This series of ten workbooks will cover all major areas of the Christian faith (the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of sin, the doctrine of the church, etc.).  Presented in a spiral-bound, lay-flat format, each workbook provides the serious Christian with key Scriptures to investigate, brief definitions of crucial terms in that area of doctrine, a month’s supply of devotionals on that area of doctrine, and practical exercises to apply what is being learned.

Didn’t the cartoonist Ron Wheeler do a terrific job on the cover art?

More on this project in a few days.

Questions:  Would you benefit from such a workbook?  What ideas would you like to see in these?

 

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